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Createc, a PIONEERING company known for finding solutions to some of the world’s most complex industrial challenges, joined forces with Dounreay Site Restoration Limited (DSRL) and REACT to accomplish a groundbreaking robotic deployment for nuclear decommissioning.

The collaborative effort resulted in the successful deployment of cutting-edge robots from Boston Dynamics, combined with Createc’s radiation sensing hardware, NV-Explore, and stands as the most complex and technologically advanced project of its kind in the UK.

The radiation levels inside the evaporator cell created a highly hazardous environment, which meant that no one had accessed the building for over 25 years. The complexity of this deployment was extremely advanced, not only due to the high levels of radiation but also because the team was guiding the robot into an area where the current condition was unknown.

The deployment involved the use of two Boston Dynamics Spot robots with one robot, fitted with Createc’s N-Visage Explore payload, including the state-of-the-art Leica BLK ARC LiDAR scanner and advanced radiation detectors. This innovative setup allowed real-time observation of the radiation environment, helping guide the operators to capture critical data in hazardous areas of the evaporator cell.

The second Spot robot, equipped with a manipulator, established a secure data network that enabled operators to command the robots from a radiologically safe area. Additionally, this robot performed swabbing, collecting crucial samples from plant items, ensuring comprehensive data collection.

The output of this deployment will be a 3D model, presenting a detailed map of radiation sources, accompanied by high-resolution videos and still-images; this data can then be used to form the most effective decommissioning strategy for the site.

Commenting on the achievement, Createc’s Energy MD, Will Newsom, said, “This deployment was the most complex robotic deployment in the UK nuclear, and most likely Europe to date. Cutting-edge robots from Boston Dynamics alongside our radiation sensing hardware were successfully utilised in collecting critical data for the site and the Dounreay team.”

Newsom further emphasised the importance of this robotic and sensing system in reducing radiation hazards and unlocking valuable insights through digital data analysis. “The use of this technology enabled us to protect the team and keep them away from the radiation hazard while capturing crucial digital data that wouldn’t be accessible through traditional methods. All three companies pushed the boundaries to deliver this complex project, with digital data we now have greater analysis techniques available that allow us to better inform the subsequent management and decommissioning strategies,” he added.

The success of this project highlights the vast potential for robotics and advanced sensing technologies to revolutionise nuclear decommissioning, making workers safer and more informed than ever before.

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